I Don't Want to be a Downer...


It seems like there is always a good bit of talk about what a fun place ETC is to work but last night I was lying awake in bed obsessing over a number of different issue I need to deal with and felt that someone should address the fact that we do real work here J Now I’m defiantly of the belief that ETC is a great place to work but it is still work.

One must keep in mind that for everyone of us sometimes crazy theatre people that work in customer facing departments, there are countless others that are doing the day-to-day labor that actually leads to products getting shipped to customers. Remember, in real terms ETC is a manufacturing company. I often find myself envying these individuals in the ability to come to work, complete a quality task, and then go home with the feeling of a job well done. When I was a Factory Field Technician, I had that feeling on a regular basis as I spent the majority of my time installing new ETC Lighting Systems and was rewarded with a happy new ‘end user’ at the end of my efforts. Or I got to fly into a city in the 11th hour, do some magic and save the day; usually with the assistance of a much smarter Phone Support Technician who did not get to see the smiling customers face or get the free beer after the show.

 Now, as a manager of 10 years, I endeavor to ensure that the cogs in the machine run smooth for any employee or customer I come in contact with. Although I find the task enjoyable and rewarding, it is does not give the same degree of daily or weekly satisfaction I once had and thus it seems more like work and therefore less fun.

Then there are the fights and arguments that are the opposite of fun. Fights you say? Arguments? Well yes, but in the: ‘We all want to go for Chinese buffet but spend so much time debating which is the best place that we use up our lunch hour and have to order in pizza’ kind of way. Meaning that the people I work with are so committed to finding the best way to things that we often fight about what the absolute best course of action is and on the service side I have seen it spin out of control…always to the benefit of the customer. For example: A call might come into Phone Support and it is decided to that a RMA should be issued. A coffee break 10 minutes later leads to discussion about the problem and a manger decides that a new unit should be sent. Then a second manager is consulted and believes that a Field Tech should first be sent to site to investigate the problem. Now the fun begins. The cheapest thing would be to send a loaner and issue an RMA. Sending new equipment or a service tech to site is expensive. So we fight about the best way to resolve the issue and eventually end up sending new equipment and a service tech and some extra parts that we think maybe will be needed.

Finally there is the guilt that makes working in service at ETC un-fun. You see, I was raised Catholic but joined the Unitarian church 7 years ago…but I still suffer from “Catholic Guilt”. I also suffer from “Service Guilt”. Service Guilt happens when despite your best efforts and intentions you outright fail to fix the customers problems. In the case above, the best decision might have been to send a loaner and issue a RMA. But then the loaner does not work when it shows up at site. You send a service technician to investigate and the problem is with the loaner. You do a quick-turnaround on the repair and send it back right away. It breaks again 4 days later. You send a whole new unit. It shows up with a broken GM fader. These things happen and they are beyond my control but I end up with an extreme sense of guilt that I have just put some TD at the local community theatre through the worst service experience of their life. It is not a fun job on that day.

In the last month I have: Had a picnic for all my German employees at my house, gone to the ETC Inc Summer picnic in my Lederhosen, gone to the ETC GmbH Summer picnic on a large hill overlooking a beautiful valley, went to a ETC Professional Services potluck, and had countless after work outings with coworkers who are also loyal friends. Yes, there is the unhappy getting up and going to work every day thing but God help me, I love it so.


Published 07-29-2008 10:08 AM by mmeskill


# re: I Don't Want to be a Downer...

Do we have a picture of you in your Lederhosen?

When you get an attack of service guilt, you could email the picture to the customer and, no doubt, all would be forgiven. Or, it would buy you a few hours to send another console.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008 12:49 PM by sterry

# re: I Don't Want to be a Downer...

Thanks to the handy work of David Lincecum, the picture has been posted on the blog.

Mike (r), and Mark Vassallo(l), look pretty good in lederhosen.

I totally agree with what you have written, but those golden moments, when a job is complete, well done and/or the customer has said thank you, are well worth all the arguments and discussions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 2:02 PM by Ellen

# re: I Don't Want to be a Downer...

Swabbie in lederhosen.  I never thought I'd see the day.  :)

Hi Mike!


NCSA D&P '98

Friday, September 19, 2008 3:34 PM by rcargile